It is rare to find freebies in New York City, but the Bryant Park ice skating rink sponsored by Bank of America is one of those hidden gems. The Rink at Bryant Park does require advance reservations for skating in 2021, and you'll need to rent skates if you don't have your own, but other than that the rink is completely free to use. Located adjacent to the New York Public Library Main Branch, every year Bryant Park transforms into the Winter Village, which features rows of open-air stalls of holiday shops and pop-up restaurants in addition to the 17,000 square-foot ice rink.
Usually, the rink hosts free skating shows, special events, and activities throughout the season. In 2021, special programs include the Curling Cafe, which provides iceless curling courts, and Cozy Igloos, where you can enjoy drinks and snacks in a private bubble.
Skating and lockers are free, but you will have to pay if you need to rent skates, want to check bags, or need to buy a lock for your locker. Skating aids are available to help children learning to skate balance on the ice. Other skate store items include helmets for rent and socks for purchase. If you have your own skates, you can also get them sharpened at Bryant Park.
In 2021, lockers will not be available and all skaters must carry their shoes in a shoe bag, which will be provided to anyone who rents skates. Unattended items will be removed and taken to the check-in desk, where you will have to pay a fee to get them back.
In 2021, only three to four groups will be allowed on the ice at a time. If you would like a longer skate time, the 8 a.m. time slot lasts between 75 and 90 minutes.
The skating rink is busiest during the peak holiday season from November 20 to January 3. If you are planning to visit during the holiday season, try to arrive early in the day. Throughout the season, the rink is more likely to be busiest after school lets out at 3 p.m. and on weekends. You can purchase special tickets to reserve a time slot and also a VIP pass which gives you priority admission and priority at the skate counter. If you are not skating, you can enjoy the holiday market or refuel with some refreshments and snacks at the adjacent eatery, holiday shops, or observation deck.
The Bryant Park ice rink has rules in place to keep everyone safe on the ice. In addition to prohibiting headphones, cameras, backpacks, pocketbooks, food, and drinks, you will also need to keep your cell phones stowed away while you're on the ice. No more than two people are allowed to hold hands and children should not be carried. Any child under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. New rules for 2021 require all skaters to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth throughout the session.
Hours and Location
The rink season stretches from Saturday, October 31, 2020, through March 7, 2021. Weather permitting, the rink opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. on weekdays, or 11:30 p.m. on weekends. Holiday hours may vary. The Winter Village is located in Bryant Park from 40th to 42nd Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues. The nearest subways are the 7 or B/D/F/M trains to 42nd Street/Bryant Park stop.